January 22, 2008

Tichu Event for MIT Mystery Hunt 2008

I am not really that creative at writing standard puzzles, particularly ones of the right (incredibly hard but still solvable) level for Mystery Hunt. As such, I decided to do something different as part of my general evangelism for the game Tichu, forcing teams to learn the game on their own, a nice break for me from all the people I have taught. My only real concern for this event was that a huge number of teams would have people who already knew the game really well, and for whom this really wouldn't be that interesting an activity. Thankfully, I was correct in guessing that only around 25% of people would have played before.

This puzzle/event had teams learn (if they did not already know it) the rules of the partnership card game Tichu (finding the rules online themselves) and then come to Mystery Mystery Hunt HQ to beat two experienced players at a single hand (deal) of the game by having a higher score (such as 55-45). Approximately five teams got access to and did this puzzle via the intended access scheme of solving a Witness Group (from the Little Black Book) Meta - I should note that these teams also probably had the hardest games as those of us on Dr. Awkward were not yet quite so sleep-deprived and probably playing better than we did later - yes, I can play Tichu in my sleep but not quite as well as when fully alert. The rest got access to it as a group at 5PM on Saturday. Fortunately, since teams took a variable time to learn the game, when teams wanted to come was spread out somewhat.

Still, from 5PM Saturday on, we had two tables going basically constantly until midnight. Overall we played a total of 27 teams (think pretty much all of the teams still active on Saturday night) and I believe every team who came once and was sent away based on mistakes (teams were sent away for at least 30 minutes if they made 3 illegal plays over the course of a session) came back and eventually completed the task successfully. Although there was some delay in bringing down teams due to the simultaneous access to it for so many, I don't think the delay was ever too bad and no team complained to me about this during the Hunt. I had the feeling that the great majority of people enjoyed this event, despite or because of its differences from a normal Mystery Hunt puzzle and I hope some of the new players liked the game enough to keep playing in the future.

I should make a special note of the first team to complete this event, Codex Bodley. This team had several quite skilled Tichu players on their team (who are also friends of mine) but they got access to the puzzle in the middle of Friday night and only one of them, Daniel W., was awake. Rather than waiting for the others to arrive in the morning, Daniel taught three of his other teammates to play and they came down as a group of four. Daniel played every hand of the 5 they needed to beat us, while the other 3 switched off each hand to get a chance to play, each of them making sure they got their turn. I thought this was a great start to the event.

Thanks so much to Joe, John, Nate, Jeremy and Erik for their many hours of Tichu play for Dr. Awkward (our team running the hunt).

Below are a bunch of statistics on the games. I find them interesting as will be very unusual to have a sample with such a large skill difference between the teams as there was here. I probably should have cut out the experienced opposing teams (who despite being not that many people called a lot of the Tichus not surprisingly) but didn't do so.

Statistics on Teams

28% of people had played before. This included 5 full pairs and then one person of the pair from another 5 or so teams.

# of Times teams sent away for mistakes: 9

Shortest game (some of these with brand new players): 1 Hand
Longest game (interestingly against both experienced players): 8 Hands

Number of games where we won the game by normal scoring rules (>1000 points) before they won a hand (not that this mattered in this format): 2

Tichus Called/Missed
Dr. Awkward: 40/6 (Made 85%)
Teams: 15/5 (Made 66%)

Grand Tichus Called/Missed
Dr. Awkward: 5/0 (Made 100%)
Teams: 1/1 (Made 0%)

One-Twos (One team went out 1st and 2nd):
Dr. Awkward: 13
Teams: 1

Posted by aarondf at 06:15 PM | Events | Comments (0)

Mystery Hunt 2008

Well, the Hunt is over, after 56.5 hours. This went somewhat longer than we had intended for sure but teams seemed to still be really enjoying it so I guess that is fine. Congratulations to the Evil Midnight Bombers on finding the coin and I am certain they will again write a great Hunt for next year.

My part in organizing this Hunt was not huge, doing some testsolving, some web stuff, and organizing and running my Tichu puzzle which had teams send people to our HQ to play Tichu against two of us experienced players. I'll write a much longer entry on this later with some stats and all as need to write this up for the solutions page anyway but overall I think it went really well and teams seemed to quite enjoy it. Thanks so much to Joe, John, Nate, Jeremy, and Erik for playing, some of us for basically 7-8 hours straight after we released the puzzle to all teams.

Posted by aarondf at 12:25 PM | Events | Comments (0)

January 07, 2008

Parable of the Talents

Wonderful story about a church event in Ohio reenacting a Bible parable.

Posted by aarondf at 05:48 PM | Links | Comments (0)

January 02, 2008


How did I not hear about this until now. Would definitely have gone down to check it out if I had known.

Posted by aarondf at 05:37 PM | Links | Comments (0)